It’s a sombre mood the following morning when the party members meet for their regular breakfast meeting.
“The engines are all working fine and we’re ready to leave immediately,” Grim says with no hint of emotion in his voice.
“Good,” says Jie. “Let’s get off this hellhole of a world right away.”
“But we ain’t got no passengers or trade goods yet,” Max says. “And I’m close to closing a deal with a wholesaler in Delos.”
“We can’t just run away from here and leave empty,” says Taeva sternly. “Not for the want of a couple more days here.”
This leads to some debate among the party members as Grim and Jie really want to leave Tarkine as quickly as possible. It comes down to a vote and the pair of them are overruled. They reluctantly accept the fact that they will have to stay a while longer. Grim heads to the engineering bay and is seldom seen for the rest of the day.
Jie agrees to accompany Taeva in taking James’s body to the authorities to explain the results of their actions and to see if there is any reward available for bringing back a dead body. Autumn starts to look for passengers. Arvor asks around to see if there are any mail shipments due for Dallia on offer. Max takes the air/raft to Delos to conclude negotiations on the freight.
Taeva and Jie head for the Imperial Marines base, taking the body of James with them. When Jie tells those on duty the reason for their visit, they are quickly granted a meeting with Lieutenant-Colonel Sharnfeld and his aide. The Colonel listens intently as Jie and Taeva give a complete debriefing of the situation and Jie explains all that she knows about James. Once she has finished, the Colonel stops taking notes and speaks:
“It’s a shame that you weren’t able to take him alive,” he says. “The Major … James Ossgoode … only leads one cell of the TPR – albeit the most active and successful one. It would have been incredibly useful to us if we could have been able to interrogate him in order to unravel some more of the organization – and to find out how he is getting supplied, but it looks as if we will have to be thankful for just the fact that he and his cell have been taken out.”
He looks to Jie.
“The fact that ‘the Major’ turned out to be a renegade former Marines Captain does answer quite a few questions though. The attack a few days ago was so effective and devastating – exploiting all of our weak spots – that we were pretty sure that the TPR had a high level informer in our camp. So now at least we know that this is not the case.”
“Surely this must be worth a great deal to you,” Taeva says, “Even if we weren’t able to bring him back alive to claim the full 250k reward?”
The Colonel nods. “Yes, that’s true. It would be very penny-pinching of me to turn you away empty-handed after the service that you have provided you with.”
He pauses. “I can offer you 100k – and also give your ship a full tank of gas and waive all your landing fees. The Imperium needs more loyal citizens like you guys.”
Taeva is very satisfied with this and so they take it. They shake the Colonel by the hand and then his Aide sorts out the details.
One can’t say Jie was happy about the turn of events, but given the circumstances she believed this is the best end for things. James had to die. He was too bent on destruction and his end goals had always blinded him to the un-ethicalness of his methods. Too often, she had noticed, once a military man of many terms has an opportunity to circumvent the humanitarian rules of the Imperium, those rules often fade away. Lieutenant-Colonel Sharnfeld struck her as much the same. He spent the majority of his career in the forces that use specific guidelines on interrogation and now he is in charge of the security of a world far outside the Imperium’s control. Jie thought that he would stop at nothing to wrest the needed information from a living rebel leader and that, at the start the interrogation would be ‘by the book’, but soon turn to torture, then a grisly death. Her memory of the good times with James deserved more than that.
Taeva was more than content to haggle a price for their services with the Lieutenant-Colonel after Jie had divulged all the information she knew of.
Jie takes a walk to stretch her legs around the office complex and to re-adjust the foam-formed brace that is holding her guts in as Will’s medicines heal her up. Her gaze falls upon two lackeys who have drawn the short straw and are now transferring James’ cold body from the autopsy room to the morgue. He had made many of his poorest decisions for money. His greed was boundless, yet he showed no signs of extreme wealth. Once, years ago, Jie had asked him where all the money went and why he would ever think of dealing with the Technocracy of Trexalon, his drunken answer should have been the first warning sign of his eventual madness.
“Cloning Research,” Jie mumbles “what a fool.”
On the way back to the ship, Taeva calls Max and tells him the news about the payment.
“Nice one, girl,” he says. “I’ve got a good deal on some metals and chemicals here, but am a bit short of cash if we want to take the whole thing. That Cr.100k will make all the difference.”
Max arrives back late in the afternoon.
“So I bought 50 tons of some high grade raw materials,” he says. “Some marble, some potassium and some titanium. Normally it should be worth a cool mill, but I got it for 700k. It’s taking almost every cred we have in the world, but it should be a pretty decent payday once we get it to Dallia.”
“I’ve also had a successful day,” says Arvor. “I’ve found some mail that needs taking to Dallia. Max, can you come with me to negotiate a price for it?”
“Nice work, mate,” Max agrees. “I’ll be glad to. I also need to find 10 tons of freight to fill the last of the cargo hold up.”
Autumn is quite quiet, but speaks when she realizes that everyone is looking to her for some feedback.
“I’m sorry to say that it seems to be pretty difficult here to find passengers,” she says. “After the attack here a few days ago, it seems as if people are nervous of coming to the starport. I will definitely find some passengers, but please don’t fire me if I don’t fill all of the staterooms with high passengers.”
“Don’t you worry, doll,” Max says. “I’m sure everything will be fine.”
No one is in the mood for partying as the wounds are too fresh still for Grim and Jie, and so everyone has an early night.